Part 1: Written by Sawyer Bullock
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
― George Orwell
If the topics of money, politics, and religion were not enough to create sufficient hoopla, the federal government has found a way to combine all three! Much controversy has arisen concerning new application criteria for Canada Summer Jobs grants. In response, further clarification has been given by the Minister of Employment, Patricia Hajdu and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, their comments focusing on the term “core mandate.”
Groups applying must agree that the job and the organization’s “core mandate” respects reproductive rights, among which is “the right to access safe and legal abortions.”
The online application defines core mandate as “the primary activities undertaken by the organization that reflect the organization’s ongoing services provided to the community. It is not the beliefs of the organization, and it is not the values of the organization.”
Hajdu has said, “…the law of Canada says that Canadians have a right to be living their life free of discrimination, and we’ll be prepared to support our decision,” and that faith-based organizations that don’t focus on anti-abortion activities should feel fine signing the attestation.
To summarize, the government is seeking to reduce discrimination by withholding funding from groups that undermine the existing rights of other groups. In assessing this, it is first worth noticing that the government is combating discrimination against certain groups by discriminating against groups. “No, no,” they say, “we are discriminating against groups who threaten the rights of others.” And how is this accomplished? By transgressing Charter Rights to freedom of conscience, religion, and equal treatment under the law.
There appear, then, to be competing rights: the right to an abortion vs. the right to protest abortions. Regarding the former, no one in the world has the right to an abortion; any view otherwise misunderstands what a human right is. Human rights are entitlements grounded in the intrinsic value possessed by all humans. While it may be legal to have an abortion, that is permission endowed by the government; this is not a right. This removes the façade of virtue from Trudeau’s position and exposes this for what it is—a political move.
The “core mandate” clause is equally vacuous. Accordingly, the core tenets of faith groups have nothing to do with anti-abortion campaigns and therefore are fine to comply with the Summer Grant criteria. According to this same reasoning, the core tenets of an elected government are not to discriminate against pro-life groups, so they too should have no business with these same criteria. This form of argument is both reductionistic and misleading. Applicants must check a box claiming that their core mandates respect reproductive rights including abortion; this is not neutral and is incompatible with holding the sanctity of life.
In sum, the Summer Grant funding criteria discriminates against groups who do not endorse abortion and normalizes abortion as national dogma—even a human right. If you do not agree, you will be penalized by your own government. To solve this, we as a culture must reason past the point of platitudes and seek to maintain policies that protect the freedom of all religious groups.
Part 2: Interview with Hannah Beadle
CS: Tell me about your first-hand experience with the Canada Summer Jobs Program.
HB: My experience over the last few summers has allowed me to work for people and places that I’m passionate about; the grants have enabled me to offer my skills and passions to non-profit organizations and ministries that I feel are doing deeply meaningful work, who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to hire me. I was able to pour into these opportunities at my local church as they, in turn, poured into me.
CS: How did your experience allow you to grow personally as a Christian?
HB: Because these organizations are usually smaller, I was able to work at a church with only 3 people on staff, which meant I was given valuable experience in a place of position and authority. Yet, it also meant that I had to deal with certain circumstances and issues that I would never have had to engage with in an entry-level job. These experiences have stretched me and allowed me to learn how to deal with other people and rely on God in things that can be really tough and challenging, especially as a younger person.
CS: How did your work support and benefit the surrounding community?
HB: These opportunities empowered me to serve the community through the Vacation Bible School that we offered free to the community. We had lots of kids come through the summer who never had to pay anything, where we were able to provide a place of fun and learning for children whose parents just needed a place to drop their kids off for the day. We would often see families and kids in the grocery store or around town, and they would ask us when the camp is because they were so excited. The church has a well-known presence in the community which was a big blessing to a lot of families.
CS: What kind of consequences do you think will result from the government’s new requirements for those who wish to apply for the funding?
HB: In my opinion, there’s no doubt that the clause in the funding agreement will marginalize religious groups, seeing as they are most often pro-life. Because of their worldview and belief systems, these ministries and organizations are compelled to help people and work in their communities in ways other organizations aren’t. Since Christian faith compels us to engage in outreach, the government may not realize that by holding back on funding these groups, they may actually be withholding valuable help for those who otherwise may not receive it. As a result, we may be left with large holes in the community’s fabric that the government didn’t realize was being patched up by the organizations and ministries they are marginalizing.